Greek police recover stolen Rubens painting
ATHENS (AP).- Greek police recovered a 17th century painting by Flemish master Pieter Paul Rubens stolen from a museum in Belgium a decade ago, authorities said Thursday. Two people, both Greeks, were arrested in the operation, he said. Neither the police nor the Culture Ministry would give further information on the raid, the painting or which Belgian museum it was stolen from, saying investigations were still ongoing into the case.
The artwork, dating from 1618 and stolen in 2001, was "a particularly important painting," the ministry said. The artwork had been examined by experts from the ministry and determined to be genuine and "of priceless value," Greek police spokesman Panagiotis Papapetropoulos said.
"The painting is being kept at the antiquities department of the greater Athens police," Papapetropoulos said.
One work that was stolen in 2001 in Belgium was an oil sketch attributed to Rubens and snatched from the Fine Arts Museum in Ghent by three masked robbers. The thieves ripped "The Hunt for the Caledonian Wild Boar" from the wall, along with the more famous "Flagellation of Christ," but they dropped the latter during their escape.
The ministry and police said a second raid also conducted Thursday led to the arrest of another six Greeks and stolen antiquities: three prehistoric bronze items, a metal seal and a manuscript with Arabic script.
The ministry said it would publicly present the painting and other items at a later date, possibly next week. No further details were immediately available, and Belgian police had no immediate comment.
BRUSSELS (AFP) - A stolen 17th-century painting recovered by Greek authorities with great fanfare may not be an original piece by the Flemish master Pierre Paul Rubens after all.
The Fine Arts Museum of Ghent in Belgium's Flemish north greeted news reports of the painting's recovery with joy on Friday, saying it hoped to bring it to its rightful home soon, one decade after it was snatched from its walls.
But the museum said the oil sketch that was stolen in 2001, The Calydonian Boar Hunt, is now attributed to one of Rubens's followers and not the celebrated painter.
"The news in the press was received with great enthusiasm by the museum staff and collaborators," said Marie-Julie Dellaert, spokeswoman of the Fine Arts Museum of Ghent.
"If this news is confirmed it is hoped that the work can be exhibited in the museum as soon as possible," Dellaert said, adding that authorities had yet to contact the museum.
The Greek culture ministry announced Thursday that it had recovered a Rubens painting dated 1618 that was stolen in Belgium in 2001. Two Greeks were arrested in connection with the case.
The ministry gave no other details, but the museum in Ghent was hit by a robbery in 2001.
At the time, thieves grabbed two paintings from the museum. On their way out, Dellaert said, the robbers dropped one of the artworks, The Flagellation of Christ, but ran away with The Calydonian Boar Hunt.
While the dropped painting is a genuine Rubens, the museum said the other piece was probably copied by one of the painter's assistants from the original oil sketch, which is now in a private collection.
"It is itself a vigorous sketch and an attractive painting. The work is a good example of how Rubens's style was assimilated by his pupils," Dellaert said.
Nevertheless, the museum is eager to reclaim its painting, which at the time of the theft was worth an estimated 200,000 euros ($284,000).